New Luxury in collaboration with Envisions
art direction Sanne Schuurman
visuals Fred Erik
text Fred Erik
the material lookout
The concept of luxury is subject to our ever-changing zeitgeist. The stereotypical interpretation of the theme, which relies heavily on wealth and abundance, is changing along with our view on the world we live in.
Climate awareness is no longer of interest to solely a small group of pioneers and is becoming a universal theme that captivates all layers of society. The quality and aesthetics of recycled and repurposed materials have long transcended their alternative origins and are rapidly becoming the new normal.
Plastic, a material which has taken up a central position in the sustainability debate, gradually takes on a new guise in which recycling and circularity are key.
The decorative panels of Smile Plastics, which are made using 100% recycled materials, are an excellent example of how repurposed waste materials can transcend their predecessor. Their Blue & Black Dapple panels in particular feature stone-like aesthetics that can easily compete with the appearance of a marble slab.
On the other side of the material spectrum, natural waste sources like wood are making similar leaps. Foresso’s Bianco Mono & Ivory Duo Panels feature terrazzo-like graphics due to countless inlaid pieces of waste wood, full of hidden details. The technique combines the natural warmth of timber with a sharp, smooth finish. These examples prove that recycled materials have reached new heights and are ready to concur with the top echelons of the material industry.
Next to linear materials, another cornerstone of old-fashioned luxury is making way for new beginnings. Ownership of objects and spaces is slowly being replaced by a sharing economy in which common goods become new status symbols.
This shift, which is led by car-sharing and co-working initiatives, begs for a radical new material approach. Maintenance, durability, and wear resistance are essential in a new material palette that suits a variety of styles, to satisfy an ever-changing clientele.
The PET felt panels produced by De Vorm are sustainable interior products with incomparable acoustic performance. Manufactured from recycled plastic bottles, the material is both durable and sustainable. Its moldability makes it suitable for both flat and voluminous applications, ranging from acoustic wall panels to furniture pieces. Combining a firm construction with a soft finish, the material is thus a versatile partner to suit up any working environment to our ever-changing needs.
A glossy contrast to these soft materials is formed by the metal laminates of Homapal. Pressed onto a hard HPL core, aluminum, copper, brass, and stainless steel finishes are applied using an embossing technique. The latter giving an ambient and distinctive touch to an otherwise cold material. The laminates are a maintenance-friendly partner for any sharing environment where easy to clean surfaces and hygiene are key. If anything, the current crisis challenged the rising sharing-economy and amplified the importance of hygiene and cleanliness for material developers.
In addition to many shifts, some things remain untouched in the world of luxury. In an industry that is in a never-ending search for novelty, rarities will never lose their appeal. However, the focus has turned from rare materials to exceptional material applications. Exemplary is Alusion, an aluminum foam produced by Cymat Technologies. Made from an extremely democratic base material, the production process lifts the metal beyond the mundane, away from what is familiar and known. Made by injecting air into molten aluminum, the foam panels feature contrasting aesthetics. Combining the cold touch of metal with aesthetical lightness. Another unfamiliar yet recognizable feeling is evoked by the Karuun Ratan wood panels. With the aid of a filling agent, rattan tubes are turned into a solid material that is permeable to both light and air. In combination with colored dyes, the porous yet strong material turns into a stunning palette of different shades. Having a soft touch similar to wood, the material is a lightweight and visually surprising alternative for anyone who’s looking for versatile natural materials.
Altogether, New Luxury paints a picture of a world that is evolving rapidly. Although the concept of luxury is being challenged, its spirit has taken on a new appearance which corresponds to our ever-changing habits and needs.
Pyrasied / Smile Plastics: Dapple
De Vorm: PET felt
Baars & Bloemhoff / Homapal: Metal Laminates
Baars & Bloemhoff / Alpi: Sottsass Veneer
De Ploeg: Mesh
Spinneybeck: Flexible Wood
CyMat Technologies: Alusion
Foresso: The London Collection
Tuchfabrik Willy Schmitz: Woven Leather
Litwork: Transparent Wood
Organoid Technologies: Nature Panels